Indulgence is the last dimension in Hofstede’s cultural model. It refers to the degree to which a culture allows human nature to direct its behavior. Indulgence is related to basic needs. It indicates the extent to which a society pays attention to these drives. If a society highly values and pays attention to basic human drives, it is considered indulgent. Indulgence is related to the enjoyment of life and having fun. On the contrary, some societies attempt to control these drives through social norms. The more a culture shows control over basic drives, the less indulgent it becomes.
Indulgence in National Cultures
Among indulgent countries are Australia, Canada, the US, Argentina, Chile, and several African countries. Cultures with high degree of indulgence enjoy life and behave in accordance with basic human drives. Therefore, having fun and fulfilling desires is considered natural. People behave and act in ways which lead them to gratification. Countries with moderate level of indulgence include Iran, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, and Algeria. In these countries indulgence and attention to duty is considered equally important. Indulgence can be related to the need for fun and freedom in Glasser’s basic psychological needs.
Naturally, the more basic needs are met, the more fulfilled and happy people feel. However, too much focus on having fun and meeting basic needs may become harmful to the development of character and society. It may also prevent people from focusing on long-term goals and postponing pleasure to achieve more important goals.
Restraints and Their Effects
The preference of duty over freedom is a characteristic of societies which practice restraint. In such cultures life is considered to be hard and having fun or enjoying life is less encouraged. According to Hofstede’s research, most Asian countries are on this side of the spectrum. They include Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea. It may now seem reasonable why these countries are developing at a fast speed.
Societies showing more restraint tend to value duty over pleasure. They work hard and may disregard certain needs in order to fulfil their duties. Control over basic human drives is more visible in such countries. This allows them to focus on their goals or responsibilities. Social norms are considered important, therefore, people attempt to adapt instead of following their personal needs to achieve gratification. This may affect their attitude towards work and their work relationships as well.
Indulgence refers to the extent to which societies attend to basic human needs. Indulgent cultures spend time to meet these needs and enjoy life, while less indulgent ones focus on their responsibilities and duties while practicing control over human drives. Understanding this dimension allows for a better chance of successful communication and relationship management. It is important to be flexible in international social encounters, as people from different national cultures show certain preferences.